St. James was officially founded in 1890 in a private home on Point Lobos Avenue (now Geary Boulevard), with the oversight of the Reverend William Sterling Neales. The name "St. James" was derived from its namesake church in Philadelphia, PA, where Bishop William Ford Nichols had served prior to becoming the Bishop of the Diocese of California.
A 'guild hall' erected on Clement Street between 5th and 6th Avenues serves as a hub for neighborhood activities, Sunday school, adult worship and meetings.
Reverend S.J. Lee is appointed priest at St. James. His remarkably long tenure lasts until 1935.
A handsome new church replaces the guild hall in 1903, and by 1904, St. James has become a full-fledged church and parish, with 49 families and 86 communicants.